A Florida man is accused of killing his ex-wife when she stopped by his house to pick up some of her belongings, then incinerating her body after taking back her wedding band and engagement ring, according to the feds.
Days later, detectives say they found a human jawbone—with a tooth still attached—in a “burn pile” on his five-acre property.
The gruesome new details are revealed in a criminal complaint unsealed Tuesday in Tampa federal court, charging Ian Christopher Baunach with possession of 13 unregistered firearm silencers. Baunach, 43, was arraigned Monday on first-degree murder charges in the death of Katie Baunach, 39, along with charges including failure to report a death to the medical examiner and 12 counts of possession of controlled substances without a prescription, for a cache of steroids allegedly found in Baunach’s home.
Baunach remains in custody at the Hendry County Jail, according to booking records. He does not have a lawyer listed in court records, and was unable to be reached for comment on Tuesday. On social media, Baunach, an avid bodybuilder, claims to be an ex-Marine who attended Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University.
The case against Baunach can be traced back to the morning of Sept. 30, when a friend of Katie’s reported her missing. Earlier in the month, Katie had applied for, and received, a restraining order against Baunach for allegedly abusing one of their two children, the federal complaint says. Last November, Baunach was arrested on charges of domestic battery by strangulation, and was released the same day on $25,000 bond, jail records show. Prosecutors did not pursue the case, and the charges were dropped in January 2022.
Katie left the estranged couple’s kids with a friend at around 9 p.m. on Sept. 29, according to the complaint. She told the unidentified friend that Baunach said she could come over to “retrieve some of her personal items,” and that she’d be back.
“This was the last time Katie Baunach was seen alive,” the complaint states.
The next day, sheriff’s deputies showed up at Baunach’s home to search for Katie. Officers saw her car parked in the driveway with her purse inside, according to the complaint. But Baunach wasn’t home, and the cops left.
They stopped by again a short time later, and noticed that Katie’s vehicle had been moved and was now parked on the street. Baunach was now at home, but the driveway gate was locked and an agitated Baunach wouldn’t let the deputies in, according to the sheriff’s office. So they applied for a warrant and entered Baunach’s residence at around 1 p.m., the complaint states.
Once inside, cops saw what they believed was evidence of a homicide, according to the complaint.
Detectives searched Baunach’s car, which was parked in the attached garage, and sprayed the trunk with luminol, which the complaint describes as “a chemical that reacts to the presence of blood by glowing blue.”
“The interior of Baunach’s vehicle trunk glowed blue after law enforcement applied the luminol,” according to the complaint.
A hallway connecting the garage with the house’s foyer showed “signs of a physical struggle,” the complaint continues. One of the walls seemed to be damaged, and officers saw exposed screws where a broken mirror had once been mounted.
“Law enforcement treated the area with luminol which again glowed blue showing the presence of blood in the previously described hallway,” the complaint goes on. “The luminol also reacted and on the wall adjacent to the office door and on the office door frame. Law enforcement discovered a large surface area on three different walls of the Premises which glowed blue when treated with luminol.”
In an adjacent home office, cops found a safe “which contained Katie Baunach’s wedding band and engagement ring,” which the feds say she had been wearing when she left her friend’s house the evening before. Officers also found an AR-15 upper receiver and 13 silencers in the safe, along with a Glock Model 27 .40 caliber pistol inside a plastic bag on a bookshelf, according to the complaint. There were three rifles and a shotgun in an attic above the garage, and Baunach had another .40 caliber Glock on his person, it says.
During a wider search of the property, cops “discovered the fragment of a human mandible with an intact tooth in a fresh burn pile, and discovered a blue fifty-gallon barrel near the burn pile which reeked of decaying flesh,” the complaint states. “Inside the blue fifty-gallon barrel, law enforcement discovered an additional human bone fragment. Law enforcement discovered other suspected human bone fragments in the area surrounding the burn pile.”
However, Baunach denied everything when confronted by police.
He told detectives that Katie had contacted him a couple of nights earlier, saying she needed gas for her car. When she arrived, the two got into an argument “over another woman,” the complaint states. Baunach claimed he “did not want to argue,” and went to sleep. When he woke up, Katie was gone, Baunach insisted, saying that he then moved her car to the street.
Investigators told Baunach they discovered blood inside the trunk of his car, which he blamed on “groceries he had transported,” according to the complaint.
“When asked about the blood found inside the Premises, Baunach stated that he did not believe the officers,” it says, adding that Baunach blamed the broken mirror on having “bumped into it while walking down the hall.” Baunach also said Katie was not “actually a missing person,” and told cops they “did not have a body.”
Baunach owned up to possessing the silencers found in his home, but “disputed they were actually silencers,” according to the complaint.
As for any ill will towards his ex, the complaint says Baunach “admitted to being angry that Katie Baunach filed for and received a domestic violence injunction against him.”
Each federal count with which Baunach is charged carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. If convicted on the state charge of first-degree murder, Baunach faces life in prison or the death penalty.
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